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‘Big five’ oppose AFL on $36m redistribution plan

Competition heavyweights Richmond, Collingwood, Essendon, Hawthorn and West Coast have objected to an AFL proposal that would see every club lose $2 million in base funding next year, with the pool redistributed to clubs hit worst by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an important meeting between the AFL and club presidents on Tuesday, the AFL was met with clear opposition from those five financially powerful clubs – who objected to another form of redistribution for next year – but was largely supported by the remaining teams, most of which stand to benefit from the “variable funding” model for 2022.

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett.

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett.Credit:Getty Images

Under the plan, presented to clubs by AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan, all 18 clubs would lose $2 million from their base funding – the minimum being close to $10 million since the pandemic began last year – and the $36 million would be reallocated according to need, with the clubs most affected receiving more than those who have been making profits.

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett was again most animated in opposing the AFL agenda – saying that the league wanted to pull down the profits of the financially-able – but he was joined this time by his Essendon, Richmond and Collingwood counterparts.

Sources who attended the Zoom meeting said Essendon president Paul Brasher voiced concern that the Bombers would become a marginal business if the base funding of $2 million was removed.

Collingwood president Mark Korda called for the funding model to remain as it is in 2021, while Richmond president Peggy O’Neal suggested that this proposal should not be introduced next year and that the AFL and the clubs should sit down to work out a solution, as the battle lines were largely drawn according to financial might.

But Adelaide and Geelong – clubs that have typically been fiscally strong, with excellent game-day returns – did not object to the plan, which the wealthy clubs will find difficult to obstruct given that it had majority support and can be simply introduced by the AFL Commission.

Carlton, a club with vast potential in terms of generating money, did not voice opposition either.

The AFL argument is that it does not know what will happen in various states with borders and lockdowns and that it makes sense to vary funding according to those circumstances.

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